Smooth and secure shared access to files is an important part of many businesses. Growing businesses often start sharing files without any plan; they just pass around USB sticks or email files. This gets inconvenient after a while, and it poses security risks. A better way is to have a shared storage device that serves everyone’s needs. This is called Network Attached Storage or NAS.
A NAS volume on a network looks like just another drive. It can be available to everyone within the business, or an administrator can set up permissions so that only certain people have access to parts of it. Good NAS devices have better reliability and error recovery than ordinary PC drives.
Shared access on NAS volumes allows collaborative efforts. A business can set up its own internal wiki, a set of shared and interconnected documents which any authorized user can update, with old versions staying available. The NAS can hold read-only documents, which anyone can look at or copy but only the administrator can delete or alter. Users can have private directories on the NAS to store copies of important files.
A hosted NAS offers extra advantages. If you outgrow your initial storage needs, you can move to a larger unit. It’s safe from physical disasters that can ruin the contents of an office. The hosting company will take care of backup and security. If a business has multiple locations, all of them can access the NAS as if it were in their office.
One risk to a hosted NAS is that it depends on a reliable Internet connection. If Internet outages are a concern and uninterrupted access is vital, a local NAS may be a better choice. Choosing a reliable host is essential; the NAS is only as reliable as the business that provides it. Look for a host with a solid business record and secure practices, not the cheapest one on the market.
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